Among the pockets of development activity that have erupted across northeast Johnson County this year, one small area stands out for its multi-city cooperation.
The corner of 47th and Mission Road touches Westwood, Roeland Park and Kansas City, Kan. This year three of the four corners of the intersection are seeing some redevelopment activity. The fourth corner is home to Oklahoma Joe’s — and nobody is looking to make any changes there.
The three cities don’t just share the intersection, they regularly meet to discuss economic development and to administer an overlay zoning district that covers property in all three. Scott Bingham, the chairman of the 47th and Mission Committee, says the three cities decided in 1999 that they had a mutual interest in the area and came up with a concept plan.
By 2002 that had been refined to an overlay district that each city has adopted. Any applications for improvements to a building goes to the committee for comments, on issues such as facades, parking and signage. “We are trying to build a cohesive corridor,” Bingham said.
The overlay district runs along 47th from Rainbow to Neosho and includes properties about a half-block back to the north and south. Each city has three members on the committee and city staff often attend the meetings. Bingham chairs the group but is not a voting member. Originally appointed from Westwood in 2006, he is a landscape architect who now lives in Fairway.
About 47th and Mission, Bingham says, there has “always been the perception that there is potential and (we are) waiting for the catalyst to set it in motion. Now, Walmart will open a grocery on the former Westwood Apple Market site in September; Taco Republic, a new Bread & Butter Concepts restaurant (think Urban Table, BRGR, Gram & Dun), is well under construction on the northwest corner in KCK, and ALH, a home renovation contractor is modifying a building just back from the intersection in Roeland Park.
The burst of development may be the corridor catalyst. Under any circumstance, Bingham says, it helps if the left hand knows what the right hand is doing.